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Wisconsin Assembly OKs drunken driving bills

MADISON — The state Assembly has approved two bills that would stiffen drunken driving penalties.

The first measure would require anyone arrested for a first offense to appear in court. Currently a first offense is a civil violation, not a criminal one, and people can skip their initial court appearance.

The bill also would eliminate provisions in state law that allow second offenses to be treated as a civil violation rather than a misdemeanor if the first offense took place at least 10 years earlier. The second proposal would establish a minimum five-year sentence for anyone convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Republican Rep. Jim Ott authored both bills.

The Assembly passed both measures on voice votes Thursday. The bills now go to the state Senate.

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